OK, Alexa invades your privacy. Well, so too does Google Assistant, Siri, Bixby, Cortana and pretty well any machine learning or AI-driven cloud – Facebook/Whatsapp/Instagram/Messenger comes to mind!
But each helpful, ever so cheerful little assistant does it in different ways.
Alexa invades your privacy to sell you more and grow the online shopping behemoth Amazon.
Respected researchers Loup Ventures demonstrates the inherent bias/pedigree with this question, “How much does a manicure cost?”
Alexa: “The top search result for a manicure is Beurer Electric Manicure & Pedicure Kit. It’s $59 on Amazon. Want to buy it?
Google Assistant: “On average, a basic manicure will cost you about $20. However, special types of manicures like acrylic, gel, shellac, and no-chip range from about $20 to $50 in price, depending on the salon.” You can then ask Google to recommend some nearby manicurists.
Google Assistant focuses on serving you accurate information from a huge range of sources.
The voice assistant does not have advertisements but improves targeting of responses as it gets to know more about you (and does not sell its data as Facebook has).
Siri is the enabler for the Apple ecosystem
Its endgame is to make the ecosystem more ‘sticky’ and to move from its hardware to more profitable services (and Apple says it does not sell your data).
Bixby has no grand plans for world domination
It has become the interface to Samsung IoT devices and talks to Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri and more. Just like LG’s ThinQ does and we are perfectly happy with that.
Cortana could have been evil but Microsoft CEO
Sataya Nadella is not
Cortana has left that to Alexa that is now on Windows devices. Cortana is Alexa’s window to the Microsoft ecosystem.
Honorary Gadgeteer, US-based Sam Bocetta is a fiercely independent, journalist
He specialised in U.S. diplomacy and national security, with emphases on technology trends in cyberwarfare,
He writes security articles for GadgetGuy. His last article ‘Five steps to secure your IoT home network – you need to!’ has been hugely popular.
Sam’s strong views may be due to the tsunami of US privacy movement pressures calling for Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to be broken up (Anti-Trust) and to implement European GDPR style regulations in the US. Regardless his US experience is sobering.
So, Sam, tell us how Alexa invades your privacy.
Let’s segue a little and look back at in time. There have been dozens of sci-fi ‘voice assistants’ purporting to be there solely to help us.
Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe got us all laughing.
“Listen,” said Ford, who was still engrossed in the sales brochure, “They make a big thing of the ship’s cybernetics. A new generation of Sirius Cybernetics Corporation robots and computers, with the new GPP feature.”
“GPP feature?” said Arthur. “What’s that?”
“Oh, it says Genuine People Personalities.”
“Oh,” said Arthur, “sounds ghastly.”
A voice behind them said, “It is.” The voice was low and hopeless and accompanied by a slight clanking sound. They span
“What?” they said.